Ann M. Martin, the author who has inspired generations with her famous children’s books- most notably the Baby-Sitters Club series, is now in the midst of another generation defining series- Family Tree.
The second installment, The Long Way Home, is due to be published by Scholastic this November. Fans that have read book one of the series will not be disappointed. Those who decide to pick up the second before the first, will also enjoy this beautifully written coming of age story of the fictitious protagonist, Dana, set in the 1950s and 60s.
Martin begins the novel in a way that is almost reminiscent of her Little Sister Series. Had Karen Brewer been around during Dana’s era, they may have been friends. However, unlike the sweet adventures that made up little Karen’s stories, Dana’s life is one in which innocence fades into the darkness on a cold January night.
Dana is a very real and relatable character, though her story takes places during the 1950s. Born into a seemingly comfortable and happy life- her father a famous author, Dana’s life isn’t all that it seems. Her main issue as a kid is distinguishing her identity from her twin sister. However, with each turn of the page and as Martin opens up Dana’s world to the reader, we realize her golden world isn’t all that it seems. Her brother’s disability opens the family to discrimination, her drunken father causes tension within his marriage, and her life quickly takes an unexpected turn as she is suddenly thrown into poverty, heartbreak, the impact of historical events (JFK’s assassination), and ultimately, a life changing choice.
It is evident that Martin’s capability to write for children just gets better with each new novel. The Long Way Home exemplifies Martin’s creative style and ability to contrast the purity of a child born in the safety of a well off author, to the darkness that follows the clear turning point of the story. Martin proves that she can write an entertaining and thoroughly engaging story for children while simultaneously providing undertones of foreshadowing, and grown up themes -such as how alcoholism impacts a marriage- for an adult reader to grasp and appreciate.
Overall, Book Two of the Family Tree series is a sure winner. Fans old and new will certainly enjoy this book, as well as anticipate the third installment after reading about Dana’s heartwarming and life changing journey.